In 1936 an endocrinologist, Hans Sdye, discovered stress. Stress is present in everybody. It occurs daily in peoples lives. Stress is a body condition that occurs in response to actual or anticipated difficulties in life (Rice, 1987). Stress can also be defined as the sum of physical and mental responses our bodies experience in relationship to any change. There are many causes of stress and many different ways to handle stress. Stress can also be harmful to ones health, both physically and mentally. There are two main types of stress, which are distress and eustress. Unfortunately, stress and distress are used all too often as though they are interchangeable terms. Perhaps this is because the commonsense view of stress is weighted to the negative side. In fact, Selye introduced the terms distress and eustress in order to avoid this dilemma (Rice, 1987, p. 18). Distress is the bad stress. It is much the same as a state of anxiety, fear, worry, or agitation. Distress is a negative, painful experience and is something to avoid. On the other hand, there is a good stress, eutress. Eustress is pleasurable and satisfying experiences that people encounter. Participation in a wedding ceremony, anticipation of competing in a major sports event, or performing in a theatrical production are examples of eustress (Rice, 1987). Eustress can heighten awareness, increase mental alertness, and can sometimes lead to superior cognitive and behavioral performances (Rive, 1987). Selye once said, complete freedom from stress is death.
There are two factors present in stress, which are external and internal. Stressors are present in external stress, and are the situations or events that cause stress as an external stimulus. For example, stressors may be linked to too much work, too little money, too many creditors, the arrival of a baby, or the excitement of a new job (Rice, 1987). The factor in internal stress is the emotional part of stress which occurs inside the body. Internal stress is usually the psychological part of stress. Emotional reactions are likely to be more volatile, marked by increased irritability, explosiveness, and displacement and displacement of anger and frustration (Rice, 1987, p. 20). When someone talks about suicide or breaking down, these are signs of the _____?? In defensive armor, reflections of the strain that they accumulate while enduring stress. The term strain is best used to refer to the effect of that pressure within the person where as the term stressor is best used to describe the forces bearing on a person. (Rice, 1987). Obviously, strains are a part of internal stress, and stressors are a part of the external stress.
There are many causes of stress called stressors. There are five main stressors which include biological variables, environmental circumstances, life situations, behaviors, and cognitive activities. The biological variables affect a persons physical state including illness and physical extortion. Natural disasters, poverty, overcrowding, and noise pollution are examples of environmental circumstances that cause stress. Life situations that cause stress include the death of a loved one, moving, loosing a job, or just being in a group of strangers. Behaviors that may act as stressors include smoking, drinking, drug abuse, and poor eating habits. Making good grades, being competitive, or repeatedly trying to accomplish a goal are examples of cognitive or thinking activities that cause stress. Stressors may not affect everyone the same way. Some people can handle stress very well and others seem to display many signs of stress. These people do not feel in control, and they want to avoid coping with the situation (Rice, 1987).
Thousands of people seek medical or psychological help for emotional distress. One out of three marriages end in divorce. Sixteen out of one-hundred thousand Americans commit suicide because they have not found lasting happiness. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians, eight percent of business executives, sixty-six percent of teachers and secretaries, forty-four percent of garment workers, and thirty-eight percent of farmers suffer form work-related stress (Rice, 1987, p. 6). Most stress is caused by the way people think about and interpret the events taking place around them.
Stress affects the body physically by setting an alarm reaction inside the body. During this reaction, different chemical substances and hormones are put out into the body in increased amounts. At first, a little area of the base of the brain called the hypothalamus receives signals from other areas of the brain. The different signals stimulate the release of adrenocorticotropia-releasing hormone. This hormone acts as the pituitary gland causing it to release ACTH into the bloodstream. This then travels to the adrenal glands above the kidneys. The adrenals release hormones called glucocorticoids, which give immediate energy and suppress the activities of the bodys immune system. During this time the adrenal glands are releasing other hormones. Adrenaline is the most important hormone because it increases blood pressure and the heart rate. The stage of resistance occurs in the body if the stressor is prolonged. The physical resistance to the stressor is at its peak during this stage, but resistances to other stressors tend to be normal. This is why people with a lot of stress catch colds and the flu easier (World Book Encyclopedia, 1997
Psychological assessment of stress has a long scientific history. Self-report measures have contributed to the understanding of clinical psychiatry and mental health. There are some assessment tools that help human stress research. They are stressor scales, cognitive/affective correlate scales and psychological symptom scales. The stressor scales are the most widely used tools. Stressor scales ask patients questions to indicate whether or not they have experienced various stressful life events. The cognitive/affective correlate scales are the precursors to the activation of the triggering mechanisms and the subsequent physiological mechanisms of mediation. Psychological symptom scales are used to measure the effects of stress response on mental health as a target organ. These also can address physical health issues (Everly and Sobleman, 1987).
When talking about stress, there are three personality types. They are type A, type B, and Type C. Type A personality traits include aggressiveness and competitiveness. These people always want to be the winner in everything they do, they never exercise, and they work all of the time. People with Type B personality traits are easy going, have no stress or worries, and are laid back. The last personality type is Type C. This includes all of the type A, but they are always confident and never are effected but sickness.
Stress has both emotional and physical symptoms. A person who is easily aggravated, aggressive or edgy has emotional symptoms of stress. They also have behavioral signs and either overeat or undereat. A person with physical symptoms of stress might experience a pounding heart or excessive sweating. These people have a tendency to catch colds frequently and have migraine headaches. Grinding of the teeth is another physical symptom of stress.
Stress management is a very broad subject and there are many ways to approach it. Stress management used to involve smoking, drinking, taking tranquilizers, or overeating. This was a way of treating their symptoms instead of finding the source of their stress. Whether a person chooses to confront a stress factor or walk away from it, the body still reacts the same way. Automatically a persons heart rate and blood pressure increases to give the muscles more blood. Their pupils dilate so they can see better, and their senses of smell, touch, taste, and hearing become more acute. Stored sugars and fats are released into the bloodstream to provide quick energy. (USA Today 1994). There are two types of people when it comes to stress. Those who handle stress by meeting it head-on, and those who try to ignore it. There are many stress reduction therapies that focus on getting in touch with a persons body or feeling. These are biofeedback, meditation, and breathing exercises. Measuring a persons heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension with electrical equiptment is biofeedback. This shows how stress affects these functions in a persons body. They can see the results and learn to control their blood pressure during stressful events. Meditation is when a person focuses on anything but what is bothering them in order to block out stressful thoughts. Breathing exercises also help the person to relax and forget about what is bothering them. Another way to handle stress is to modify ones lifestyle. This can mean lightening ones load or breaking down big tasks into small ones to do each day. (Arbettur 1992).
Stress has become an enormous problem that people have to face everyday. It is important that people know how to treat and deal with stress. If they do not, they can end up having mental and physical problems in the future. It is proven that The United States spends over one-hundred billion dollars a year on stress related diseases. People just need to learn how to control their stress, and accept stress and accept stress as a daily part of their life. Granted, stress can be deadly and none of us escapes it. But that doesnt mean that we are al doomed ( Cowley 1999).
Rice, Phillip L. (1987). Stress and Health.Montery, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company
Everly, George S. Jr. and Sobleman, Steven A. (1987). Assessment of the human stress response. New York: AMS Press, Inc.
Arbetter, Sandra (1992). Handling stress: the balancing act. Current Health 2, Oct 1992 v19 p7
USA Today (1994). Stress can be managed. April v122 p11
Cowley, Geoffrey (1999). Stress-Busters: What Works. Newsweek, June 14,1999 p60
World Book Encyclopedia (1997) World Book, Inc. a Scott Fetzer company Chicago v18 p927